Awhile ago, I heard of a congregation that called a pastor. A congregation calling a pastor is a thing that frequently happens, so that's not why this stuck in my brain. It stuck in my brain because this was a congregation that, just a few years ago, had two full time pastors, then couldn't afford two pastors, then couldn't afford one pastor who had been out in the field for a while. So they called a seminarian to be their pastor. Except they didn't call him to be their "pastor." They called him to be their "administrative pastor."
Now, I intend no disrespect for the people of this congregation. I am certain that they are fine Christians who hunger for the bread of life and desperately wanted a pastor to feed this to them But calling a pastor to be an "administrative pastor" is a bad sign, regardless of the circumstances. Whether he is one of five pastors on staff or whether he's the cheapest option of sole pastors around, when a congregation bestows the "administrative" title on her pastor, this reveals that her members are ultimately convinced that the chief and primary work of a pastor isn't really to forgive their sins but rather is to run a smooth congregational ship-streamlining programs, integrating activities, fostering an atmosphere of discipleship synergy and a bunch of other CEO type phrases that don't actually mean anything. Likewise, when a congregation that has recently lost both a boatload of members and her status as a mult-pastored staff calls an "administrative pastor," this is probably a clear indication that they think the way to build themselves back up is to play mega-church rather than to focus on repentance and trust in the Word.
So I know what all of you are wondering at this point. You're wondering, "what made up rite should a congregation that does such a thing be required to go through even though they shouldn't actually have to go through it but maybe they actually probably should?" The answer, of course, is the Rite of "We Don't Know What the Heck We're Doing."
The Rite of "We Don't Know What the Heck We're Doing" would be a simple service. It would be a kind of modified confession and absolution, reading something along the lines of this:
C: Pastor, please hear our confession, even though it's really embarrassing.
C: What troubles us particularly is that we called you to be our administrative pastor.
P: Why did you do that?
C: Well, you see, we don't know what the heck we're doing.
P: That is obvious. How do you plan on avoiding things like this in the future?
C: For starters, it would probably be a good idea not to borrow titles that never existed until two years ago from non-sacramental churches that have no understanding of the office of the ministry.
P: Yeah, that would probably be a good idea. Go in peace.
Of course, the Rite of "We Don't Know What the Heck We're Doing" would not just be limited to congregations that give their pastors silly titles. Nor would it even be limited to congregations. Pastors could also participate. For example:
P: Why did you move the baptismal font out of the sanctuary in order to make room for the praise band?
C: We don't know what the heck we're doing.
C: Why did you do a sermon series on the seven different ways to sanctify your sex life?
P: I don't know what the heck I'm doing.
I'm totally serious about this. Except I'm not. Well, maybe just a little bit.
My name is Pastor Hans Fiene. Thanks for reading.